Virginia U Visa Eligibility

The eligibility for a U Visa depends on your victimization of one of the qualifying crimes for a U Visa and the qualifying crimes for a U Visa come from the federal definitions of crimes. There are general descriptions that are pulled from federal law. However, most crimes occur on the state level and are charged in state court or investigated by state or local police departments. After determining eligibility for a U Visa, there is a lengthy process for obtaining a U Visa in Virginia, and the help of an immigration attorney is essential.

Eligibility Considerations

The name of the statute might not match exactly with the federal list of qualifying crimes. In these cases, it is important to evaluate the elements of the federal crime that someone is going to try to get the U Visa under, and then argue that the conduct that occurred or that was investigated, not necessarily what ended up being charged but the conduct that was investigated, could have been charged under one of the federal crimes or the federal definition of the crimes that are enumerated on the U Visa.

A good example of this is armed robbery. Robbery is not listed as a qualifying crime for the U Visa. There are many victims, however, who are victims of crimes that were charged as and reported and investigated as armed robberies. However, in a lot of these cases, if there was any kind of physical contact, especially if there was a firearm involved, any kind of threat or physical assault in a situation like that could be charged under federal law as a felonious assault.

An immigration attorney can make the argument for someone to obtain a U Visa in Virginia to USCIS that even though it was not charged as a qualifying crime, it could have been charged under federal law as a qualifying crime, which could be a felonious assault. That is a legal argument that needs to be made to USCIS and they would not automatically make it for someone, they cannot check the box that says “other” and write in “armed robbery” and hope that it will be approved. This is something that an immigration attorney can help someone applying with.

Student Visa Applications

Individuals with a student visa can apply for the U Visa. A lot of people that are students can be victims of crimes and a U Visa is a better status for these people if they hope to stay in the US permanently, because a student visa will expire when the status as a student ends.

If someone does not have another route for adjusting their status to a permanent status in the United States, the U Visa may be a much better option for them. It would mean that their status was not tied to their status as a student which may be liberating for some people, especially if they want to work while they are in school, which can lead to the termination of a student visa.

Work Visa Applications

Individuals who are in an H1B work status that have been victims of crimes can apply for U Visa status. You can apply for your U Visa concurrently with your H1B status or another kind of employment-based status. You can maintain your employment-based status while the U Visa is pending. Then once the U Visa is approved, you can convert your status from an H1B or whatever employment-based status you have to a U Visa holder.

It is not possible to hold both statuses at one time. Once you get the U Visa, you would convert your employment-based status to that of a U Visa holder. A U Visa holder is eligible to receive a work visa and you are allowed to work while you have a U Visa status but you are not allowed to work while your U Visa application is pending. When obtaining a U Visa in Virginia, an immigration attorney will be able to help you understand all considerations of each particular visa application beforehand.